Any of you with an interest in African cinema (one of our areas of research expertise at Stirling) should catch up with Radio 4’s The Film Programme where Lizelle Bisschoff, founder of the annual Africa in Motion Film Festival (and former French at Stirling PhD student), has just been talking about her Africa’s Lost Classics project. The 2017 festival kicks off next week and the full programme is online here.
This semester seems to be flying past and it doesn’t entirely seem possible that we should already be a week or so away from our mid-semester break. Our Year 1 students have just received feedback on the essays they wrote as part of our package of Bridging Materials, assessment deadlines are starting to fall for this semester’s modules, the schedule of films for Stirling’s section of the French Film Festival has made its way into the MacRobert programme… Against that busy backdrop, it’s good to get a chance to reflect on what a year in the life of French at Stirling can look like, from the perspective of one of our PhD students, Fraser McQueen who has very kindly made time to send us this blog post:
“I came back to Stirling to start my Ph.D in French Studies in October 2016, having originally graduated with a degree in French and History in 2014 before going to St Andrews to do an MLitt in French Studies and then spending a year teaching English as a lecteur at the Université de Toulon. I came back to Stirling mostly because I thought that it was the best place in Scotland for my project, given the department’s strategic focus on colonial and postcolonial studies, but also because I’d enjoyed my time here before. If it seems like a year is a long time to leave it before writing a blog post, I’m the only one to blame: I’ve been promising to do this for several months now!
I’ve just passed the first year review of my Ph.D, which means that I’m officially allowed to progress into the second year: the review process, during which I had to answer questions from three academics on the work I’ve produced so far, was quite stressful but also very helfpul in showing me the areas in which I still have a lot of work to do.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed the first year of my Ph.D. I research representations of Islamophobia and coexistence in contemporary French literature and film: I believe that this is an extremely important subject, and it’s been great to have the chance to research it in depth.
I’ve also enjoyed the other opportunities that come with doing a Ph.D: I’ve presented at three conferences and had four articles published in The Conversation, a news and opinion website via which academics from Ph.D level upwards are able to share their research with a non-specialist audience. This is something that I’ve particularly enjoyed: I think that it’s important to communicate academic research to people outside of academia, particularly with projects like mine, and The Conversation is a great way to do that. Writing for non-specialists has also really helped me to write more clearly: I used to have a bad habit of writing huge sentences filled with jargon, which their professional editors wouldn’t allow. Although I can’t use the exact same style for my academic writing as I would in The Conversation, the experience of needing to be more concise has definitely helped and I’d strongly recommend that other Ph.D students try writing for them.
I also had my first journal article published in Modern and Contemporary France last week, which I’m really pleased with. Getting it through peer review was a very long process – I originally submitted it last November – but I feel that the article is much better for it. I also had a book review published in Modern and Contemporary France earlier in the year, and am now working on another journal article which I hope to submit elsewhere in the next month or so. I’m enjoying all of this, but trying to balance it all out with actually doing my research and writing my thesis can be tricky at times!
Problems balancing my workload and the occasional stress of writing to one side, though, I’ve really enjoyed the first year of my Ph.D. Over the next year I’m hoping to get draft versions of four of my thesis chapters written: it’ll be a challenge, especially given that I’m now also teaching undergraduates, but it’s one that I’m looking forward to.”
Many thanks to Fraser for taking the time to write this and congratulations on the progress review success, as well as on the publications front!
The Summer is always a good time for a bit of a catch-up on news about research by French at Stirling colleagues and postgrads (past and present) so, if you’re looking for some pool-side reading, we would highly recommend:
‘Rapping through time: an analysis of non-standard language use in French rap’ by Martin Verbeke, who completed his PhD with us last year, and Bill Marshall’s latest article, ‘Imagining the First French Empire: Bande dessinée and the Atlantic.’ Current PhD student Fraser McQueen also has a new article in The Conversation about French President Emmanuel Macron. Bill has also been continuing his research on parkour with an invited lecture on parkour and visual arts at the Parkour Research and Development Forum at Gerlev (Denmark) earlier this month.
More research updates to follow over the weeks ahead…
Last week of teaching here and two of our PhD students, Fanny Lacôte and Fraser McQueen, are running a new informal French conversation group that will be meeting for the first time on Thursday 1st December in Pathfoot C22. It will take place between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, after which there will be an even more informal meeting with the Let’s Speak French Society at the William Wallace pub in Causewayhead for those who want to stay longer.
In order to make it easier for people to talk the group will have a theme, which on this occasion will be contemporary French music. There will be music chosen by the organisers to discuss, so those who aren’t sure what to talk about and just want a chance to practice their spoken French should feel free to come along!
Thanks to Fanny and Fraser for organising this and we hope there’ll be more meetings in the Spring.
As well as our new group of Semester 1 students and new Masters students on our Translation programmes, we’re also delighted to be welcoming back to Stirling recent Stirling French and History graduate Fraser McQueen who’s embarking on a PhD with us. Fraser will be supervised by Fiona Barclay with additional supervision from Nadia Kiwan at Aberdeen. His research topic is ‘Race, religion and communities of friendship: literary and filmic contributions to French political debates post-2005’ and we’re particularly pleased that Fraser was awarded an AHRC scholarship to fund his research.
We’re looking forward to keeping you posted on Fraser’s work over the months ahead but, in the first instance, you can read his article on the current burkini controversy in The Conversation. The article was also republished in The New Statesman and we’re sure there’ll be much more to follow.
Fraser will be joining a growing community of doctoral students supervised by French at Stirling staff on a wide range of topics. Martin Hall is currently working on ‘British Cinema: Historicising Theory’ with Bill Marshall as his supervisor while Bill is also supervising Angus Macdonald’s thesis on ‘New French Horror Cinema.’ Angus’s 2nd supervisor is Elizabeth Ezra who also supervises Katie Moffat’s research project which examines ‘Transnational Nordic Film Culture and Minority Politics.’ As well as being 2nd supervisor for Fraser and continuing his supervision of Juliet Tenshak’s research on contemporary Nigerian fiction, David Murphy has also just taken on a supervisory role for Education student Mostafa Gamal who is working on ‘Ethical, reflexive encounters with internationalisation in FE: an autoethnographic conversation’.
We hope to have a chance to post more about these projects and their authors over the months ahead.
Today is the first day of the new academic session at Stirling. To those starting out on our Semester 1 modules, whether in our ‘Advanced’ stream or as a Beginner, welcome to French at Stirling and we’re looking forward to getting to know you over the semesters ahead.
To those returning to Years 2, 3 or 4, welcome back. We hope you’ve had a good Summer and, for those just back from English Language Assistantships or Semester 6 Abroad, we’re looking forward to hearing all about it.
As ever, we’re also welcoming visiting students from a range of different places so whether you’re a Francophone Erasmus student or a non-Francophone exchange student taking some of our modules, we hope you enjoy your time with us. We’d also like to welcome this year’s cohort of students from Passau on our International Management and Intercultural Studies integrated Master’s programme and, this year, we’re also welcoming our first group of students on our Translation and Interpreting double degree with Hebei Normal University in China.
Alongside our undergraduate students, it’s also the start of the new academic year for students taking our Translation TPG programmes with French and for some new PhD students, working under the supervision of French at Stirling colleagues. More about them very soon but, in the first instance, welcome (back!) to Stirling.
Plenty more news to share about events coming up this semester, from French Film Festival screenings in partnership with the MacRobert to European Day of Languages celebrations and much else besides but we wanted to post a rentrée message before the day is out! More blog posts to follow soon…